News & Events

Hon. James E. Baker Featured on Ipse Dixit Podcast

Host Brian L. Frye and Institute for Security Policy and Law Director the Hon. James E. Baker discuss Baker’s new book “The Centaur’s Dilemma: National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution”(Brookings, 2021).

Baker begins by explaining why he thinks artificial intelligence requires us to think about the relationship between people and machines in new ways. He describes some of the national security implications of artificial intelligence technology and its implementation. And he reflects on how policymakers should think about those questions.

Listen to the podcast.

SPL Researcher Matt Mittelsteadt Publishes AI Verification Report with CSET

The rapid integration of artificial intelligence into military systems raises critical questions of ethics, design and safety. While many states and organizations have called for some form of “AI arms control,” few have discussed the technical details of verifying countries’ compliance with these regulations.

In this peer-reviewed report—”Mechanisms to Ensure AI Arms Control Compliance“—Institute for Security Policy and Law AI Policy Research Fellow Matthew Mittelsteadt offers a starting point, defines the goals of “AI verification,” and proposes several mechanisms to support arms inspections and continuous verification.

The report is part of a research partnership between SPL and the Center for Security and Emerging Technology investigating the legal, policy, and security impacts of emerging technology.

Mittelsteadt explains that his report defines “AI Verification” as the process of determining whether countries’ AI and AI systems comply with treaty obligations. “AI Verification Mechanisms” are tools that ensure regulatory compliance by discouraging or detecting the illicit use of AI by a system or illicit AI control over a system.

Despite the importance of AI verification, few practical verification mechanisms have been proposed to support most regulation in consideration. Without proper verification mechanisms, AI arms control will languish.

To this end, Mittelsteadt’s report seeks to jumpstart the regulatory conversation by proposing mechanisms of AI verification to support AI arms control.

Professor William C. Banks Discusses Trump’s Second Impeachment with China Daily

Senators OK trial to impeach Trump

(China Daily | Feb. 11, 2021) Opening arguments in the historic second impeachment trial of former US president Donald Trump will start Wednesday after the Senate voted to approve its constitutionality, but a conviction will be “highly unlikely”, experts say.

Six Republicans joined all the Democrats in the Senate to vote in favor of allowing the first trial of a former president to take place …

… A Senate conviction requires a two-thirds majority, but it is highly unlikely that 67 senators will line up against the former president, according to William Banks, distinguished professor emeritus at the Syracuse University College of Law in New York.

“The main explanation for Republican senators’ support is their belief or fear that Trump continues to control the national party and that many Republican voters do (believe that), too,” Banks told China Daily …

Read the full article.

WSJ Speaks to Professor William C. Banks About Second Impeachment Trial

Jamie Raskin Leads Democrats in Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial

(The Wall Street Journal | Feb. 7, 2021) Rep. Jamie Raskin faces an immediate challenge as the top prosecutor in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump : Many of the senators acting as jurors don’t think there should be one.

The Maryland Democrat was picked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to serve as the lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial that starts Tuesday. The 58-year-old former constitutional-law professor will lead eight other Democrats in seeking to persuade the Senate to convict Mr. Trump of inciting an insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

In a legal brief last week, Mr. Raskin alleged that Mr. Trump “created a powder keg” in which hundreds of people “were prepared for violence at his direction.” Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that Mr. Trump didn’t engage in insurrection, saying that he had “exercised his First Amendment right under the Constitution to express his belief that the election results were suspect” and that he hadn’t incited violence …

… Actions can be impeachable without being criminal offenses, and lawmakers have wide latitude in determining what rises to a “high crime or misdemeanor.” Under the criminal code, a 1969 Supreme Court ruling holds that the government can punish inflammatory speech only if it is both intended to incite and likely to incite “imminent lawless action.”

In a criminal case, a prosecutor would have to prove that Mr. Trump “could have reasonably foreseen that his incitement was likely to lead to all hell happening at the Capitol,” said William Banks, a law professor at Syracuse University …

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Hon. James E. Baker Interviewed on New Books Network

The Centaur’s Dilemma: US National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution

By Kyle Beadle | New Books Network

From facial recognition to online shopping, artificial intelligence has become the backbone of the internet and has led to an unprecedented extraction and utilization of personal data. As a result, AI has rapidly outpaced existing free speech, privacy, and national security law.

In The Centaur’s Dilemma: National Security Law for the Coming AI Revolution (Brookings Institute Press, 2020), Judge James E. Baker deploys his extensive experience in national security law to argue for AI regulation through legislation …

Listen to the interview.

Fashion Looks to Paris (Agreement): Professor Mark Nevitt Speaks to WWD

What Rejoining the Paris Agreement Signals to Fashion

(WWD | Jan. 21, 2021) While the U.S. rejoining the Paris Agreement is just the beginning of a bold rush into environmental stewardship, the action should not be overlooked because of the message it signals to fashion.

“I think there will be more focus on all industries that contribute to climate change, to include fashion.”

Why does this brush of the penstroke matter?

A Cross-Industry Sustainability Push

“Rejoining the Paris Agreement is a signal to the world that the U.S. ‘is back’ on the international climate stage,” said Mark Nevitt, an associate professor of law and expert in environmental and climate change law at Syracuse University’s College of Law. “The U.S. is the world’s largest historical greenhouse gas emitter, and U.S. leadership is crucial for making international climate progress and reducing our emissions. As the Senate is 50-50 and there is a slim Democratic majority in the House, passing bold climate legislation will be challenging.”

It is a 30-day process that began Wednesday for the U.S. to officially rejoin the agreement, but the process of undoing previous environmental rollbacks and rewriting law to realize the bold pledge of making the country carbon-neutral by 2050 is more daunting.

Nevitt believes the Environmental Protection Agency will be the main lever under the Biden-Harris administration “to push [Biden’s] environmental agenda,” both in communication and action. And as for the largely unregulated and highly polluting fashion industry, Nevitt foresees it in the mix of broader industry overhaul.

“I think there will be more focus on all industries that contribute to climate change, to include fashion. Look for the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Michael Regan, to push broad sustainability policies across the U.S. economy. For fashion, this will likely highlight the need to reuse clothing, streamlining supply chains to reduce the carbon footprint,” he said. “While only so much can be done by law or regulation, look for a broad push via public communications on sustainability across all industries, to include fashion and its environmental impact” …

What Rejoining the Paris Agreement Signals to Fashion

The Legal Examiner Talks to Professor William C. Banks About Domestic Terrorism Cases

Domestic terrorism prosecutions reach all-time high

(The Legal Examiner | Jan. 19, 2021) The insurrection attempt by a mob on the nation’s capitol may be part of a larger trend of increasing incidents of right-wing domestic terrorism.

“I think it’s not a one-off,” said William C. Banks, law professor at Syracuse University College of Law. “We’re in a very critical period right now that might even abate or reverse itself. I’m hopeful that it will. I think we’re going to have to see.”

Banks said he hopes the leadership of Joe Biden’s administration will have a “more calming effect” than President Trump.

Last year saw the highest number of domestic terrorism prosecutions brought by the federal government around the country in the 25 years since government tracking of these cases began, according to a report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Banks is not affiliated with TRAC.

In all, U.S. Attorneys’ offices brought 183 domestic terrorism cases in 2020, compared with 90 in 2019, 63 in 2018 and 69 in 2017, according to the TRAC report, which used data the clearinghouse obtained through litigation …

Read the full article …

Domestic terrorism prosecutions reach all-time high

No Conviction? Professor William C. Banks Comments on Trump’s Second Impeachment

House impeaches Trump once more

(China Daily | Jan. 14, 2020) With the US Capitol secured by armed National Guard troops inside and out, the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for a historic second time, indicting him for “incitement of insurrection” in the storming of Congress a week ago.

“I predict no conviction in an eventual Senate trial.”

As impeachment heads to the Senate, President-elect Joe Biden said he hoped the Senate can balance a second impeachment trial of Trump with “other urgent business” of the nation, which remains gripped by the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement released hours after the bipartisan House vote, Biden did not take a position on whether the Senate should convict Trump, but again condemned the violent attack on Capitol Hill …

William Banks, distinguished professor emeritus at the Syracuse University College of Law in New York, said the House vote on impeachment was not surprising.

“It underscores that he is the ONLY President in US history to be impeached two times. It is clearly a stain on his record and should underscore the view that his presidency was an aberration in the US,” Banks told China Daily.

Some Republicans joined because Trump lost the election, he can’t impact them directly in the future, and in addition, Trump’s actions were far more grave and harmful this time around, Banks said.

“I predict no conviction in an eventual Senate trial, and with luck the Senate will relegate the trial to off hours so they can begin working on the Biden agenda,” Banks said. “It should have little impact on the Biden administration” …

Read the full article.

 

Professor William C. Banks Helps Explain Insurrection Act for USA Today

What is the Insurrection Act and how could Trump use it? Here’s what to know

(USA Today | Jan. 11, 2021) False social media posts swirled late Sunday that President Donald Trump in the wake of the U.S. Capitol riots had invoked the Insurrection Act, a law that allows the president to deploy the military to quell rebellion.

Tweets sharing images of military personnel in Washington continued to spread Monday morning and became a trending term on Twitter. However, Trump has not invoked the law.

The law, which has existed in various forms since the time of George Washington and in its current state since the Civil War, allows the president to dispatch the military or federalize the National Guard in states that are unable to put down an insurrection or are defying federal law …

William Banks, a Syracuse University College of Law Board of Advisors Distinguished Professor, said that when thinking about the Insurrection Act, it’s important to remember one of the most basic principles of the United States’ founding: that the military not be involved in civilian affairs.

“The Insurrection Act lays into U.S. law an exception to that background principle,” Banks said.

In most cases, a state would want to rely on National Guard troops in situations of unrest. The Insurrection Act is generally reserved for when “things are really bad,” Banks said …

… Hoffmeister and Banks said, however, there was no need for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act on Jan. 6. given the federal government’s control of the district’s National Guard and federal law enforcement. Invoking the Act would have further allowed Trump to send active-duty military to the district when he already in effect had control over its National Guard and federal police …

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NBC News Asks Professor William C. Banks About National Guard and Protests

Who decides when there are helicopters? Experts weigh in on National Guard monitoring protests

(NBC News | Jan. 10, 2020) It was not lost on many Americans — including President-elect Joe Biden — that after a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters broke into the Capitol in Washington, D.C., the delayed use of National Guard troops was far different than it was during the Black Lives Matter protests last year.

In late May, governors called on 43,000 troops nationwide. The nation hasn’t deployed National Guard troops at a comparable scale since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. By comparison, on Wednesday, acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller approved the deployment of less than 6,200 National Guard troops …

… But the use of National Guard units in June was “fundamentally exceptional and different from the way civilians and the military have ordinarily worked together,” said William Banks, emeritus professor of law at Syracuse University and co-author of “Soldiers on the Home Front,” a book about the domestic deployment of U.S. military assets. He fears that the new use of military surveillance technology for domestic protesters presents deeply troubling implications. “The civilian-military relationship, which is critical to the success of our society, has broken down” …

Read the full article.